Apple Software & Hardware Technology Usability

Apple Mac Tablet for the rest of us, Part 3

an image of an artists impression of a possible Apple Mac TabletTo try to please everyone is to please no one. But could an Mac Tablet by Apple do just that? Could Apple please the home, education and creative markets with one device? I’d say they can, and the reason for this thinking is not so much in the device, but in the software.

In the first installment, I looked at how Microsoft tried and enjoyed only a marginal success with their Windows XP Tablet Edition PC.

In the second installment, I looked at the technology and the route down which Apple might go towards a Mac Tablet.

If Apple do come to market with a Mac Tablet, I believe Apple can clearly differentiate themselves with something quite special.

OK, when I think of a Mac Tablet, I think of something with a very rich, highly configurable interface, one including the ‘multi-point, and multi-user interactions’ as mentioned in the Jeff Han article previously.

Something that leverages the depth of software and make connections with devices Apple already have around them. Something that ties in the iPod Hi-Fi, the iPod range, the soon-to-be-released Apple iTV, their wireless products as well as the Mac Mini and the iMac.

Quite apart from the mouth-watering prospect of filling your home or office with this wonderful array of media production, media delivery and media viewing devices, you have the head-scratching prospect of figuring out how to control all of these devices in a simple, 1-2-3 step fashion. Well, maybe Apple has given consideration to how they might remove this pain:

“Apple Computer recently researched and developed a wireless touch-screen remote control concept that would automatically discover and communicate with existing and future consumer electronics appliances as well as the personal computer, a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office has revealed.”

Just imagine controlling multiple devices remotely from anywhere in the home or the office? Controlling them quite sedately through your Mac, or even your Mac Tablet:

“A wireless communication mechanism built into the remote would allow the device to automatically detect appliances within range. Once an appliance is detected, the remote would request a set of user-interface controls from the appliance and then make those controls accessible to the user via graphics on the remote’s touch-screen.”

Such a device as the Apple Universal Remote Control would turn the veritable nightmare of media management into a dream of simplicity and ease-of-use.

With such a device, Apple can then pretty much concentrate their efforts on the software as the key means of differentiation across the home, education and creative markets.

In fact, Apple could quite conceivably step to one side and allow the third-party developers to do their magic.

However, that isn’t likely. If we know anything of Apple it’s that with Steve Jobs at the helm, it’s the spectacle of a new release that helps set the stage for the success of a new release as much as anything else.

Steve Jobs has a knack of delivering an idea in a simple and engaging fashion. To do this, they’d need some software package to showcase what a Mac Tablet could do.

Almost immediately, Apple could add in the hooks to their iLife suite to enable multi-point functionality.

So for the likes GarageBand, you have the prospect of selecting clips, dragging them out, altering tempo, altering the volume while dragging out the timeline.

As for Pages and Keynote, you have the chance to muck about with objects and shapes in ways that would have previously required several mouse clicks and key strokes to duplicate.

If the Mac Tablet was capable enough, running Adobe Photoshop would open up even more possibilities, what with touch sensitive drawing and painting, as well as similar options for Adobe Illustrator and Flash.

Getting ahead of myself .. a little!

I have a confession to make: I’m not quite sure a Mac Tablet would be a peer device along side a Mac plus art tablet in any design studio near you.

Even with the new Intel processors, I think Apple will be gunning for a price point, and shoe-horning all of this horsepower into a small form-factor device would in all likelihood bust the price point.

In fact, if you listen to the rumours, then there’s a Mac Tablet coming in 2007 to a living room / class room near you:

“Sources in Taiwan have said that the focus has been more on the home and the education environment than the enterprise marketplace.”

But that still leaves the education and home markets to play with, and the possible collaborative nature of one or more people using a single Mac Tablet is quite amazing.

Watching a film in bed just got a damn sight more practical and schooling now looks very hands-on from the get-go…

Part 1, 2, 3

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “Apple Mac Tablet for the rest of us, Part 3”

As I’ve been reading the parts of this article I’ve had in the back of my mind: “I wouldn’t need a Mac tablet. It’d be a nice toy to own, but *I* wouldn’t need one.”

That was until I read: “Watching a film in bed just got a damn sight more practical …”

Damn you, Mr. Smallman! Now I’ll have to buy one! I may just send you the bill … ;^)

Seriously though, that had never occurred to me. I’ve been (very) slowly encoding all my DVDs to my ageing iMac G4 (God bless HandBrake) and regularly enjoy a good movie/Family Guy/Futurama episode from the comfort of my bed and, whilst I’m looking forward to the release of Leopard so I can buy one of the Intel iMacs, I was worrying about how I would get around the whole “the screen doesn’t rotate like my current iMac” problem.

So, Stevie-boy, please release this tablet-thingy at the same time as Leopard and bundle them with the iMacs, please!

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